YFD Senior Spotlight: 12 Questions with Leila Paltrowitz

We are so excited for our graduating class of 2022--both for all of their accomplishments here at YFD as well as the hard work it took in the classroom to be accepted to such prestigious universities. For each of the next few weeks, we will spotlight one member of our class with a series of questions. We hope that you will share this with your swimmers as these eighteen swimmers are great teammates and role models! 

 YFD Senior Spotlight: 12 Questions with Leila Paltrowitz

1) How long have you been on YFD?

I have been on YFD for around 4 years.

2) Why did you choose the school you will attend next year?

I chose the college I am attending next year because it seems like a great school with amazing academics, a lovely campus, and a wonderful community of people. When I toured Brown, it seemed to have everything that I wanted in a college and I could really see myself being happy there.

3) Do you know what you want to study? If so, what?

While I am not fully decided on what I want to study, I am leaning towards biology or something else in the field of science. With that being said, I am looking forward to exploring lots of different subjects when I get to college!

4) What is your favorite memory of being on YFD?

I have had so many great experiences on this team but one of my favorite memories of being on YFD is from our winter championships in Boston this year. It was the first real meet that I had been to in years and lots of people were swimming really well, so the meet itself was very exciting. But the most fun part of the meet was the hours I spent each day in the hotel lobby with my teammates: talking, playing card games, and even running around in the dark when the power went out.

5) What is the hardest set you can remember doing?

We have definitely done a lot of hard sets over the years but one of the most memorable ones was 100x100s freestyle on the training trip several years ago. It was a two hour practice and we had gotten in a bit late so on our interval of 1:20, we would have only been able to do eighty or so one hundreds. As I went through the set, counting each one as they slowly went by, I kept telling myself that I would only have to reach eighty, but when the two hours passed, Amine just told us to keep going until 100 so we did. Even though I was absolutely exhausted after 10,000 straight yards of swimming, it felt great to have accomplished such a daunting set.

6) What is your favorite Amine story?

My favorite Amine story took place at Northeast Showcase when I was in ninth grade. I had been on the team for less than a year and since I was fairly shy, I was somewhat afraid of Amine and had not corrected his mispronunciation of my name for several months, by which point he had already decided that he would call me Layla regardless of how my name was actually pronounced. After swimming my 100 breast and dropping several seconds, I went to see Amine who had been cheering loudly all throughout the race. As I walked towards him, he yelled out “Yeah Leila,” pronouncing my name correctly for the first time, and then he hugged me. I was certainly happy with how I had swum, but his reaction and excitement made the moment so much better. Even though I was still one of the slowest swimmers in the group and routinely got lapped during practice, I saw just how much Amine cared about each of his swimmers and also realized that he actually did know my name (although he has chosen to continue to mispronounce it for three years since then).

7) If you could go back in time and tell yourself something as a younger swimmer, what would it be?

I would tell myself not to stress so much about what times I went and to just enjoy my swimming experience. I think that I was often too preoccupied with dropping time in my events or hitting certain intervals in practice, but ultimately what really matters is working hard, getting some exercise, and having fun.

8) How did you balance academics and being a competitive swimmer?

Swimming competitively and balancing academics definitely required some time management and organization. I always tried to accomplish as much as possible during my free periods at school or during the time that I had before practice. I would also do larger assignments over the weekends so that I would have less to do on weeknights. Honestly, I think that having the structure of swim practice for several hours each night really helped me to be more productive with my schoolwork in the limited time that I had and prevented me from wasting time. I also think that swimming was a necessary break from everything academic and no matter how much work I had, getting in the pool each day always helped me to destress and feel happier.

9) What is your favorite pre-meet meal?

My favorite pre-meet meal is pasta with parmesan cheese.

10) What is your favorite event and why?

My favorite event is the 200 breaststroke because I love swimming breaststroke and it’s also a really nice distance to be able to slowly build throughout the race.

11) What is your proudest accomplishment to date?

I am not sure that I have a proudest accomplishment, but I suppose I am proud of sticking with swimming for so many years. Even though my competitive swimming career is now coming to an end, the eleven years I have spent swimming competitively have been amazing and will continue to prove useful in so many ways.

12) Do you have any advice for the younger swimmers on the team who might want to swim collegiately?

While I will not be swimming collegiately, I would say that it’s always good to keep an open mind and not feel set on one path or another. I think it’s easy to get caught up in feeling like you have to drop a certain amount of time in order to make a particular meet or be recruitable to colleges, but what really matters is that you are working hard and enjoying swimming.